Economy#Between the lines | Fraud and extortion. The 'vultures'...

#Between the lines | Fraud and extortion. The 'vultures' are unleashed

The vulture is surely the bird most offended by humanity due to its voracity for dead meat. It has a mile-long gaze that allows it to go after its inert prey and, although it also plays a vital role in the ecosystem (the rapid recycling of lifeless animals), it is often described as ugly and disgusting.

Wildlife is not the only one that has this type of specimens. In everyday life there are those who take advantage of fear, take money that is not theirs, but also abuse trust to hook their victims. Today, there are many ‘vultures’ who extort money, steal identities, cheat, empty bank accounts in a matter of seconds.

Misfortune can fall at any moment. When there is a crisis, there are also conditions that motivate fraudsters to act. According to Interpol, the risks for these criminals are not high but the benefits are. “Financial crime ranges from simple theft by malicious individuals to operations orchestrated by criminal groups. This criminal modality has acquired a new dimension thanks to the rapid advance of digital technology.

And we can all fall into their traps.

Let’s look at the date:

At the end of 2021, the National Commission for the Protection and Defense of Users of Financial Services (Condusef), of the Mexican government, received 252 thousand claims classified as traditional fraud, identity theft and virtual fraud; of this figure, 155 thousand were related to commercial banking.

Traditional fraud, explains Jesús Chávez, director of Analysis and Statistics of Financial Services and Products at Condusef, occurs with the carving of credit or debit cards, but also when people throw away their account statements without considering that it is there. all your financial information, which can be used by a scammer.

In 2021, the Condusef received almost 45 thousand claims, which meant a slight growth of 0.6% compared to 2020. Meanwhile, in the first half of 2022 it received 20 thousand 812 claims, when in the same period of 2021 it registered 23 thousand 425 reports, a decrease of 11.2%.

Regarding possible identity theft (which can occur when official identifications are lost), in 2021 the Condusef received 3 thousand 383 reports, a decrease of 4% compared to 2020; while from January to June 2022, it registered 1,504 claims, a decrease of 4.4% compared to the first half of 2021 (1,573 reports).

Virtual frauds have had another behavior. At the end of 2021, the Condusef registered a significant increase in possible virtual fraud with 24 thousand 442 claims, an increase of 52.4% compared to the previous year. At the end of June 2022, it received 12,837 reports, which means an increase of 5.8% compared to the same period in 2021. Two causes are related to this alleged crime: unrecognized electronic transfers and unrecognized charges via the Internet.

Something else must be added to these data: the dark figure of crimes that are not reported and whose consequences are only assumed by those who suffer them. According to figures provided by the Citizen Council, in Europe the dark figure for property crimes is around 65% and in Latin America it is between 80% and 85%. An atrocity.

In reality, the dark figure is impossible to assess because it has many faces: from those who detect a small charge in their bank account but do not report it, to those who have lost their identification and still do not know that someone with their name has already applied for a loan.

“There is a dark figure out there that is dancing but I cannot quantify it for you,” says Jesús Chávez, from Condusef.

“Many people do not follow the investigation and only share their information as a matter of relief, of solidarity so that others do not fall. Many people think that, given the amount, there is no longer any point in continuing, only 7.8% of the reports become investigation files,” adds Salvador Guerrero Chiprés, president of the Citizen Council for Security and Justice of Mexico City.

It is known that the incidence of these crimes worries banks and authorities, due to the evolution and sophistication of the ‘vultures’ that take advantage of legal channels to do their thing, due to the universe of apps that have emerged and that are not part of the system and it is not possible to trace and even because of the boom that financial crimes could register in the face of future consumption seasons such as the national holidays, the Good End and Christmas.

Who should pay for the misdeeds of the ‘vultures’? The users? The bench? Government? No one is really guilty or, in any case, there are shared responsibilities. The banks must strengthen their security mechanisms, the authorities improve their strategies for prosecuting crime and we must detonate our financial culture.

We have to do something now. Here are some tips: consult the Credit Bureau; hire the financial product that meets the user’s needs; require information related to guarantees, commissions receivable, alerts; not give financial information to anyone, so if you receive a call to report an unrecognized charge or to update bank information, say thank you, hang up, take the card, turn it over, and speak directly to the financial institution.

“The most important thing is that any emergency that arises or any extraordinary offer, in general, is true. Everything that comes in by phone, in regards to emergencies or supposed supply situations, is false in 98% of cases”, warns Guerrero Chiprés.

The ‘vultures’ take advantage of the ‘wow factor’ and fear. Let’s keep calm. Money is scarce and there is a feeling of vulnerability and loss, but it is important to be clear, for example, that any offer that pretends to solve our lives in 5 minutes is a fraud; Before everything that sounds good, nice and cheap, it is best to think twice.


The question of this story is: do users get their money back?

The Condusef, after receiving a report and following up on it, manages something called “percentage of solution”. In general terms, the average rate is 39.1%; that is to say, of 10 cases, almost four are resolved favorably for the clients. This percentage varies according to the financial product; for example, in the case of unrecognized consumption via the Internet it is 52.9%, in credit cards it is 55.8% and in debit it is 47.4%.

The “solution percentage” does not determine the amount of the refund in favor of the account holder. There are matters in which 100% is recovered, in some it is partial and in others there is no money back.

On the other hand, the Citizen Council for Security and Justice of Mexico City enabled the “No + extortions” app. There, along with the publication of complaints, is the list of 192,000 cell phone numbers linked to fraud, extortion, digital kidnapping, threats. It also makes the telephone available: (55) 55335533.

Editor’s note: Jonathán Torres is managing partner of BeGood, Atelier de Reputación and Storydoing; business journalist, media consultant, former editorial director of Forbes Media Latam. Follow him on and on Twitter as . The opinions published in this column belong exclusively to the author.

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